Evolution is a fundamental concept in biology, explaining how life on Earth has changed over time and how diverse species have come into existence. It is driven by two main principles: adaptation and environmental change.
Firstly, adaptation is the process by which an organism becomes better suited to its environment. This occurs through a series of changes in an organism's physical structure or behavior, allowing it to survive and reproduce more effectively.
Secondly, environmental change is a significant alteration in the environment, which can include changes in temperature, resource availability, or the presence of predators. These changes often create new challenges for organisms, and those that are unable to adapt may become extinct. However, they also present opportunities for new forms of life to evolve.
Understanding evolution, adaptation, and environmental change is crucial in many areas of biology and beyond. For instance, it provides insight into why certain diseases become resistant to drugs, how domesticated animals and crops have been created, and even how humans may continue to evolve in the future. In the context of environmental science, it is essential for predicting how species will respond to climate change and other forms of human disturbance.
- Khan Academy: Evolution and the tree of life
- BBC Bitesize: Adaptation and evolution
- Book: "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution" by Richard Dawkins.
- Video: Evolution: It’s a Thing - Crash Course Biology #20 (YouTube)
- Scientific American: Evolution (Articles and News)
- The National Center for Science Education: Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science (Resources for teachers)
Activity Title: "Survival of the Fittest - An Evolutionary Challenge"
Objective of the Project:
To understand the concepts of evolution, adaptation, and environmental change through the creation of an ecosystem simulation and the observation of how species adapt over time.
Detailed Description of the Project:
In this project, each group will create a simulated ecosystem and introduce a fictional organism into it. The organism will undergo several rounds of "evolutionary time", experiencing environmental changes and needing to adapt to survive. Each round represents a period of time in the evolution of the organism. The group's task is to observe and document the changes in the organism's traits (physical structure and behavior) over the course of these rounds, and how these changes correspond to environmental changes and the organism's survival.
- Large piece of cardboard or poster board
- Markers, colored pencils, or paint
- Small objects to represent resources (ex. pebbles, buttons, etc.)
- Small objects to represent predators (ex. toy animals, figurines, etc.)
- Paper and pencil for note-taking
Detailed Step-by-Step for Carrying Out the Activity:
Planning and Designing the Ecosystem: Each group will draw and design an ecosystem on the cardboard or poster board using markers or colored pencils. The ecosystem should include a variety of resources (represented by the small objects), such as food, water, and shelter, as well as predators and other organisms.
Introducing the Organism: Each group will create a fictional organism and place it in the ecosystem. The organism should initially have some traits that allow it to survive and reproduce in the ecosystem. These traits can be represented by the organism's size, shape, color, or other physical features, as well as its behavior.
Conducting "Evolutionary Rounds": Each round represents a period of time in the evolution of the organism. After each round, the environment will change, presenting new challenges and opportunities for the organism. The group will need to decide how the organism's traits might change in response to the new environment, and update the organism's representation accordingly.
Observing and Documenting Changes: Throughout the rounds, the group should observe and document any changes in the organism's traits, as well as how these changes correspond to the environmental changes and the organism's survival. These observations and changes should be noted down in a systematic manner.
Reflecting and Discussing: After several rounds, the group should reflect on the observations and discuss the concepts of adaptation and environmental change. How did the organism's traits change over time? Why did these changes happen? How did they help the organism survive in the new environment?
Summarizing and Report Writing: After completing the activity, each group will write a report detailing their observations, understanding, and conclusions. The report should consist of the following sections:
Introduction: Contextualize the theme, its relevance, real-world application, and the objective of this project.
Development: Detail the theory behind evolution, adaptation, and environmental change. Explain the activity in detail, indicate the methodology used, and finally present and discuss the obtained results.
Conclusion: Conclude the work by revisiting its main points, explicitly stating the learnings obtained and the conclusions drawn about the project.
Bibliography: Indicate the sources that were used to work on the project such as books, web pages, videos, among others.
This project will take approximately eight to twelve hours per participating student and should be carried out by groups of three to five students. The report should be submitted one week after completing the practical part of the project. The report writing process should be collaborative among the group members, ensuring that all participants contribute to the final document. Remember to cite all sources of information properly and adhere to a clear and coherent structure in the report. Happy exploring and evolving!